By Angela Forsyth
An airplane seat is no friend to the lower back. Whether you’re dealing with existing back pain or trying to avoid it, airline seats aren’t designed to give you proper back support. Statistics show that after just 20 minutes of sitting, blood pools in the legs and pressure builds on the spine, creating tightness and discomfort in the lower back. Virtually all commercial flights are longer than that, which means millions of travelers are left to suffer in their cramped economy-class seats counting the minutes until touchdown. It’s not just air travel. A lot of people live lifestyles that require them to go on business trips, commute long distance or travel far to see loved ones. Some go by plane, some by train and others by car. None of these travel options are ideal for back health.
Back pain is a major issue in the U.S. In fact, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reported that 80 percent of the population deals with some sort of lower back pain on a regular basis. This overwhelming problem is what prompted the design of The Back Thing, a functional chair cushion designed by a neurosurgeon to provide lumbar support. Many have found relief in the simple yet smart design of The Back Thing. Peter F., who commutes for work in the Baltimore area, said: “Commuting by train to workplaces a strain on my lower back. I typically sit for three hours daily roundtrip and really feel it when I get home. The Back Thing has been a nice addition to the commute. I like the fact that it folds for easy placement in my briefcase, too.”
The Back Thing pad is a travel must. Lumbar rolls are easy to find or make, but they can take up to half a person’s valuable carry-on space. This cushion is slim enough to pack inside a carry-on roller bag and the “Traveler” model folds in half to fit inside a backpack, work bag or large purse. Frequent travelers understand the importance of packing light, especially when back pain is a concern. Packing light means less chance of back injury from having to lift a heavy bag off a baggage claim carousel or hoist a large bag into a car. The Back Thing adds very little additional weight to travel bags and takes up minimal carry-on space. Even so, when it’s opened and placed on the seat back, it’s firm enough to keep the back properly aligned and strong enough to ease back pain.
Millions of people are dealing with the same issues as Peter. Lower back pain is the second leading cause of doctor’s visits, beaten out only by the common cold. It also accounts for the most job-related injuries and time off from work. According to The Hidden Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans report, there were 264 million lost workdays in one year. That’s two work days for every full-time worker in the country. As a whole, people in the U.S. spend more than $100 billion on treatment for lower back pain, according to The Journal of American Osteopathic Association. These are staggering figures.
Why is there so much back pain in the U.S.? Back pain can come on abruptly after lifting a heavy object or as the result of an accident, but most back pain is caused by sedentary lifestyles. In general, Americans spend much of their time sitting. They sit for work, for travel, to eat and to watch TV. They’re sitting so much it’s become detrimental to their health, leading scientists to say that sitting is the new smoking.
If you travel often or your work requires you to sit for long periods, there are a few simple and inexpensive ways to combat back pain. Develop proper posture and muscle balance with exercises directly targeted at strengthening back muscles. Practice yoga, which has been proven to ease chronic lower back pain. You don’t have to leave your house or spend money on a yoga studio. Yoga videos are easy to stream online through Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube.
Another back-saver is to wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. Look for well-made athletic or walking shoes that will support your feet and ankles properly to keep your body more stable when walking. Wearing good shoes will also lessen impact through the joints.
When sitting, use good lumbar support that supports your back vertically. Be careful. Most lumbar supports come in the form of foam rolls, rolled up towels or pillows that fit horizontally across the arch of the lower back. These cushions tend to push the lower back to overarch instead of promoting good posture. If you need to sit for an extended period, make sure to sit at a good position and height for the task. Keep shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and get up to stretch and walk around periodically.
About The Back Thing:
The design of The Back Thing relieves back pain by giving support to the lumbar area with a different technology than other seat cushions. Instead of horizontal cushioning, that pushes the lower back to overarch, The Back Thing uses vertical pine slats beneath its padded cushion to promote better posture and lumbar support. The slim design makes it foldable and easy to carry for travel and work. The Back Thing is made in the USA and is available online at www.TheBackThing.com.